Psychological underpinning for therapists and counsellors

This section is designed for therapists, counsellors, professionals or people with some knowledge and understanding of psychology. For a simpler explanation, please see the Psychology behind the Sunflower Effect which is aimed at participants.

A non-judgmental space

The Sunflower Effect® is a highly effective confidence-building system designed for quiet, shy and introverted people or those whose confidence has been undermined by difficult life experiences.

The Sunflower Effect Courses® offer a non-judgmental space in which participants can free themselves from the psychological barriers that are holding them back from expressing themselves authentically.

The Sunflower Effect® brings together the transformational power of drama (based in dramatherapy), enabling participants to bypass the mind and connect with their natural instincts – which is where true confidence lies. It literally will bring them alive to who they truly are.

The approach is fun, liberating and, in many cases, releases life energy that has become stuck due to emotional repression.

And it is highly compatible with psychotherapy and counselling. Many participants attend the Sunflower Effect Courses® in combination with their long-term work with a therapist.

Some counsellors and psychotherapists send their clients on the Sunflower Effect Courses®, particularly when a client is not making headway in the area of confidence. It supplements and expands the work they are doing with their clients.

And some choose to attend the courses themselves because they have challenges in this area.

My background and training

My training is in dramatherapy. This has enabled me to work in a safe and empowering way, as well as speeding up the process in which change can take place. (See more about my training and background out of which I developed the Sunflower Effect®.)

The Sunflower Effect® works directly with unconscious patterns

Working directly with unconscious patterns

The Sunflower Effect® is unique in that it works directly with the unconscious patterns deeply buried within you. It does this by using the language the unconscious operates in – story.

This is the language too of dreams. It is also the language that is expressed through powerful archetypes and mythology.

Jung and Freud understood the power of working with stories to effect powerful psychological change.

The Sunflower Effect® draws particularly on Jung’s work and takes this one step further by enacting these powerful archetypes and myths.

Myth provides a container for participants to access their deeper selves and the Sunflower Effect®, the means through which they can release and transform unconscious patterns.

Working with carefully chosen myths from cultures all over the world, some of which are many thousands of years old, is particularly powerful as the Sunflower Effect® is tapping into an ancient healing system. In fact, this system has been around for thousands of years.

From the earliest times, it is known that primitive people practised some kind of dramatic ritual to heal a wide range of situations and conditions. And is still practised by many tribal people to this day. This is also one of the core components of dramatherapy.


I have been fascinated with myth and archetype for many years. Right from the beginning of offering my work back in 1997, I discovered how healing these ancient tales could be as I watched people release long-buried emotions and traumas. As well as discovering how to express their joy and passion.

The myth was “doing the work” and bringing with it, I believe, the energies of the collective unconsciousness. Participants would describe this as feeling as if something larger than themselves was being expressed. And later would report significant changes, synchronous events and unexpected opportunities.

The power of working with myth to unlock unconscious patterns
Working with ancient myths will enable you to effect deep psychological change

Our mission

The Sunflower Effect Courses empower quiet, shy and introverted people to believe they can create the life they want through uncovering and expressing their unique and authentic selves. See The Sunflower Manifesto

Joseph Campbell

The Sunflower Effect® also draws on Joseph Campbell’s work. Joseph Campbell was a mythologist who was greatly influenced by modern psychology, particularly the work of Carl Jung.

He studied ancient myths from all over the world and discovered there was a classic pattern in all myths. He called this “The Hero’s Journey” – and saw how these ancient systems (myths) are still relevant to us today. The Hero’s Journey is a way of seeing our journey in life and how to overcome the obstacles in our way.

This wonderful man encouraged us all to “follow our bliss“. Meaning that we follow our deepest calling in life

In many of the courses, we work with the structure of the Hero’s Journey to help participants to understand the patterns that habitually get played out in their lives. And how they can break those patterns.

Our intention through the Sunflower Effect Courses® is to help participants to find their bliss. The thing that’s going to bring them the most fulfilment in their lives.

For many, this happens naturally as a result of doing the courses. A new career or life path opens up for them, or they discover what truly brings them happiness. See the Breakthrough Group, Breakthrough Plus.

Indeed Campbell went further than this to say that we need these myths because they put us back in accord with Nature and that, as a civilisation, we are hopelessly out of touch with Nature.

This is another reason why we are stuck in our heads and cut off from our instincts and intuition. And this is even truer in the twenty-first century with the increasing impact that electronic gadgets are making on our everyday lives.

See this Article: Is living in your head doing you any good?

I was delighted when Phil Cousineau, editor of the seminal book on Joseph Campbell’s work, recognised how much Joseph Campbell would have loved the approach I have developed – if he was still alive today. He saw my approach as fulfilling Campbell’s vision.

Claire Schrader’s new book … fulfils Joseph Campbell’s vision of a remythologized world, one in which we would be, as he loved to quote Cezanne, more “in accord with nature.”

Phil Cousineau, author of The Hero’s Journey: Joseph Campbell on his Life and Work

He was talking about the dramatherapy textbook I edited Ritual Theatre. So you may want to take a look at this book to get a deeper understanding of how working with myth and ritual brings about powerful psychological change.

You will find many references to Joseph Campbell’s work and to the work of the African shaman Malidoma Somé – whose tribe “did not need therapy because they had ritual”. In the book, I refer to myth-a-drama which was a precursor of the Sunflower Effect® .

Bringing myth powerfully alive

The Sunflower Effect® brings myth powerfully alive, by bringing it into the here and now, while at the same time drawing strongly on the power of the group to bring about change through empathic witnessing, mutual support, compassion and understanding.

Participants are encouraged to follow the flow of their natural impulses so that they can enter more fully into the emotions of the characters they are exploring. This is so  “deep acting” and catharsis can occur.

(It may take a little while for some participants to overcome their inhibitions of working with drama, but this is why a twelve-week course is recommended.)

Thus in enacting the myth or story they are accessing and playing out, not just their personal unconscious but the Jungian collective unconscious facilitating profound healing and transformation on many levels.

This can feel like an awareness of something that is “beyond themselves” – even those with very little previous drama experience.

Thus, the Sunflower Effect®  combines the power of myth and drama to bring about deep transformational change.

There is, of course, an awful lot more to this, based on complex psychological theory. But I hope this gives you a window into the theory behind the Sunflower Effect and how it enables participants to make such deep change.

what is the making moves approach
Participants following the flow of their natural impulses

The Hero’s Journey – Joseph Campbell on his Life and Work
Collected Works of Joseph Campbell)

by Joseph Campbell  (Author) Edited by Phil Cousineau (Paperback – 24 April 2014)

I highly recommend reading this book, which to me, is a lot more accessible than a lot of Joseph Campbell’s books. This is because I believe that Joseph Campbell is more inspiring when he is speaking. This is the book that was edited by Phil Cousineau.

It consists of a series of interviews with Campbell and others that were influenced by his work.

Claire Schrader

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